Iran J Pediatr Case Report Dec 2007; Vol 17 ( No 3), Pp:388-392 Menkes Disease: Report of Two Cases Mohammad Barzegar*1, MD; Afshin Fayyazie1, MD; Bobollah Gasemie2, MD; Mohammad ali Mohajel Shoja3, MD 1. Pediatric Neurologist, Department of Pediatrics, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, IR Iran 2. Pathologist, Department of Pathology, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, IR Iran 3. General Physician, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, IR Iran Received: 14/05/07; Revised: 20/08/07; Accepted: 10/10/07 Abstract Introduction: Menkes disease is a rare X-linked recessive disorder of copper metabolism. It is characterized by progressive cerebral degeneration with psychomotor deterioration, hypothermia, seizures and characteristic facial appearance with hair abnormalities. Case Presentation: We report on two cases of classical Menkes disease with typical history, (progressive psychomotor deterioration and seizures}, clinical manifestations (cherubic appearance, with brittle, scattered and hypopigmented scalp hairs), and progression. Light microscopic examination of the hair demonstrated the pili torti pattern. The low serum copper content and ceruloplasmin confirmed the diagnosis. Conclusion: Menkes disease is an under-diagnosed entity, being familiar with its manifestation and maintaining high index of suspicion are necessary for early diagnosis. Key Words: Menkes disease, Copper metabolism, Epilepsy, Pili torti, Cerebral degeneration Introduction colorless. Examination under microscope reveals Menkes disease (MD), also referred to as kinky a variety of abnormalities, most often pili torti hair disease, trichopoliodystrophy, and steely hair (twisted hair), monilethrix (varying diameter of disease, is a rare X-linked recessive disorder of hair shafts) and trichorrhexis nodosa (fractures of copper metabolism.[1,2] It is characterized by the hair shaft at regular intervals). The clinical progressive cerebral degeneration with psycho- picture is caused by a defect in copper motor deterioration, seizures, and connective transporting ATPase (ATP7A), resulting in tissue alteration with hair abnormalities.[2,3] The defects of key copper dependent enzymes, most striking finding is the appearance of the including lysyl oxydase, cytochrome c oxidase, scalp hair, being thin, coarse, brittle and dopamine β-hydroxylase, tyrosinase, and super * Correspondence author; Address: Pediatric Department, Tabriz Children Hospital, Sheshgelan St, Tabriz, IR Iran E-mail: email@example.com Iran J Pediatr. Vol 17 (No 4); Dec 2007 389 oxide dismutase. Depigmentation of hair and skin control. Light microscopic examination of the pallor are due to tyrosinase deficiency, scalp hair showed pili torti. The diagnosis of MD hypothermia is due to cytochrome c oxidase was confirmed on the basis of low serum copper deficiency and lysyl oxidase deficiency causes (15 μg/dl; ref. range: 70-150 μg/dl) and low tortuous arteries in brain, progressive vascular serum ceruloplasmin (58 mg/l; ref. range: 187- changes predispose to thrombosis and deficient 322, mg/l). There were no abnormalities in other blood supply to the developing brain[2,3,5]. standard blood analyses. The electroencephalo- Neuroimaging discloses atrophy and bilateral graphy showed multifocal spikes and waves with ischemic lesions in deep gray matter or in the poorly organized sleep features. Brain CT scan cortical areas; the consequence of vascular demonstrated cerebral atrophy and subdural infarctions. effusion. Copper-histidine was prescribed. Management of patients with MD is Despite anticonvulsant therapy with various supportive, with an emphasis on anticonvulsant drugs (phenobarbital, clonazepam, nitrazepam, treatment and a trial of copper histidine therapy. vigabatrin) intractable seizures continued. At the Prognosis is poor with progressive neurological end of the first year of life, neurological deterioration and eventual death within the first 3 milestones such as head control, rollover years of life. response and laughing had not been achieved. The clinical history and the appearance of the Unfortunately, the patient died of a respiratory infant should suggest the diagnosis. Microscopic infection at the age of 14 months. examination of the hair is very helpful even in a mild case. Low levels of serum copper and ceruloplasmin will usually confirm the diagnosis. If doubt still exists, the diagnosis can be confirmed by demonstrating the intracellular accumulation of copper and decreased efflux of 64 Cu from cultured fibroblasts. Menkes disease is a rare disorder; its frequency has been estimated 1 in 114000-250000 live births. We report on two cases of classic MD diagnosed in Tabriz Children's Hospital, a university- affiliated tertiary hospital in the East Azarbaijan province, the North West of Iran between years 2002 and 2006. Fig 1- Scattered and hypopigmented scalp hairs in Menkes disease Case(s) Presentation Case 2: The five month-old male infant was referred to our hospital with regression of Case 1: A seven month-old male infant was developmental milestones and seizures. He was brought to our out-patient clinic due to gradual- born at term to healthy consanguineous parents. onset of hypotonia and seizures. The boy was The pregnancy was uneventful. At birth the head born at 34 weeks of gestational age to healthy, circumference and body weight were 35 cm and non-consanguineous parents. He was the first 3.2 kg, respectively. Family history was child of the parents. His early development was remarkable for the death of two previous male age appropriate for 3 months, and then regressed. siblings at the age of 1 month and 18 months. At 5 months of age myoclonic jerks were noted. They had severe neurodevelopmental delay His clinical examination at 7 months revealed without a definite diagnosis. The patient had a cherubic appearance with depressed nasal bridge, history of 8 days hospital admission on third day and brittle, scattered and hypopigmented scalp of life with poor feeding, hypothermia and hairs (Fig 1). He had no eye contact and no head hyperbilirubinemia (total bilirubin was 16 mg/dl). 390 Menkes Disease. M Barzegar, et al His early development was age appropriate for 4 seizures and failure to thrive. Cerebral months, at 3 months of age he had good head degeneration then dominates the clinical control and laughing. At 4 months of age tonic picture.[1,3,5] and myoclonic seizures were noted. On clinical Children often have a cherubic appearance examination at 5 months, the most striking with sparse, course, short, twisted, and lightly finding was the appearance of the scalp hair. It pigmented hair. Individuals with the mild variant was colorless, thin, brittle and kinky. Although are developmentally delayed with cerebellar eye contact was noted, he had poor head control ataxia, dysarthria and pili torti, and no seizures. and no rollover response. Brain CT scan showed The occipital horn syndrome is considered a MD cerebral atrophy and subdural effusion. An variant. The skeletal dysplasia, soft bruisable electroencephalography revealed frequent skin, hyper-extensible joints, diarrhea, and multifocal epileptiform discharges with occipital exostosis characterize it. disorganized background. With high suspicion of The typical history and clinical features in our MD, serum copper and ceruloplasmin were patients were suggestive of classical MD. The determined; with 3 μg/dl (ref. 70-155) and 15 cherubic facial appearance with a depressed nasal mg/l (ref. 187-320 mg/l) respectively both were bridge in both of them was similar to reported below normal levels. Light microscopic cases in the past.[1-3,5,6,9,13] examination of the hair showed pili torti (twisted Hair abormalities are the most striking signs hair shafts) and trichorrhexis nodosa. There were in this syndrome. Our patients showed brittle, no metaphyseal changes of long bones on X-rays. scattered and hypopigmented scalp hairs; under There were also no abnormalities in other microscope hair was shown to be twisted standard blood analyses. The diagnosis of MD longitudinally with narrowing at intervals along- was made. Phenobarbital and nitrazepam were with many erosions on the hair shaft. The hair partially effective. Poor weight gain, seizures and was fragile and fractured easily, resulting in neurologic deterioration were evident in a visit at apparent generalized alopecia. Several hair shaft 1 year of age. At 17 months of age he showed abnormalities have been documented, with pili severe global developmental delay and failure to torti being the most common, also trichorrehexis thrive. He has had two short hospital admissions nodosa, trichoclasis, and trichoptilosis have been for chest infection and diarrhea. reported.[4,14] The scalp hair may appear normal at birth, but at approximately three months of age the hair on the scalp and eyebrows becomes kinky, coarse, and lightens in color.[1,3,5] Discussion Non–skin manifestations in our patients were delayed developmental milestones and intractable The clinical features and inheritance of MD were seizures similar to other reports.[1,3,5,6,9] Epilepsy first described in 1962. Ten years later the is a frequent and early feature in MD, it was underlying biochemical defect in copper reported in our cases. Myoclonous is the usual metabolism was discovered. The clinical seizure type; other types of seizures, including spectrum of MD encompasses several distinct multifocal seizure and tonic spasms are also variants. The neonatal form is characterized by reported. Seizures are usually resistant to multiple fractures and extensive vascular disease antiepileptic drugs. The pathophysiologic with early death. Infants with classic MD mechanisms of epilepsy in MD remain unknown, typically appear healthy until 2 to 3 months of but they are likely related to copper deficiency. It age. Premature delivery is very frequent, as are results in an impairment of lysyl oxidase, neonatal hypothermia and hyperbilirubinemia. considered as the primary cause of the abnormal Hypothermia may also occur in older infants. intracranial vessel structures. Neonatal symptoms may resolve, and the babies Our patients had low serum copper and may seem normal during next 2 or 3 months. At ceruloplasmin levels which correlated with the 3 months of age they start to demonstrate clinical findings, these levels are usually low but developmental delay, hypotonia, intractable interpretation may be difficult in the first few Iran J Pediatr. Vol 17 (No 4); Dec 2007 391 months of life. In the past, the final diagnosis References was made by cultured skin fibroblasts and lymphoblasts, which showed impaired 1. Menkes JH. Kinky hair disease, Pediatrics metabolism of copper. Today this method is 1972;50(2):181-3. being replaced by molecular genetic analysis, 2. Danks DM, Campbel PE, Walker-Smith J available in certain laboratories, to confirm the et al. Menkes kinky-hair syndrome. diagnosis for carrier testing or for prenatal Lancet. 1972;1(7808):1100-2. diagnosis. Our diagnosis was made on the basis of 3. Menkes JH. Kinky hair disease: twenty clinical and laboratory findings. Our cases five years later. Brain Dev. 1998;10(2): fulfilled the following clinical and biologic 77-9. diagnostic features of the classical MD: 4. Smith VV, Anderson G, Malone M, et al. Progressive neurologic disease with marked Light microscopic examination of scalp hypotonia and neurologic regression, feeding hair samples as an aid in the diagnosis of difficulties with failure to thrive, cherubic pediatric disorders: retrospective review of appearance with a depressed nasal bridge, brittle, more than 300 cases from a single centre. J scattered and hypopigmented scalp hairs, Clin Pathol. 2005;58(12):1294-8. pathognomonic hair abnormalities consistent with pili torti, and low plasma copper and serum 5. Menkes JH, Wilcox WR. Inherited metabolic disease of the nervous system. ceruloplasmin levels. Copper histidine is the most effective In: Menkes JH, Sarnat HB, Maria BL treatment for MD, and if admiminstered soon (eds). Child Neurology. 7th ed. Philadeiphia: Lippimcott Williams & after birth, neurological development can be maintained. By contrast, there are few Wilkins. 2006; Pp:115-7. neurological benefits when Cu-histidine 6. Tumer Z, Horn N. Menkes disease: recent treatment is initiated after 2 months of age. advances and new aspects. J Med Genet. Therefore it would be important to have it easily 1997;34(4):265-74. available in drug market. The early diagnosis is 7. Ichihashi K, Yano S, Kobayashi S, et al. also mainly required for the genetic counseling. Serial imaging of Menkes disease. The pattern of inheritance is X-linked with a Neuroradiology. 1990;32(1):56-9. recurrence risk of 50% for the affected sons and 50% of daughters will be carriers. Unfortunately, 8. Tonnesen T, Kleijer WJ, Horn N. in our second case genetic analysis was not Incidence of Menkes disease. Hum Genet. available. Prenatal diagnosis of MD can be 1991;86(4):408-10. performed by gene analysis and/or measurement 9. Menkes JH, Alter M, Steigleder GK, et al. of the copper concentration in culture of amniotic A sex-linked recessive disorder with liquid cells and chorionic villi cells. retardation of growth, peculiar hair, and focal cerebral and cerebellar degeneration. Pediatr. 1962;29(1):764-79. Conclusion 10. Danks DM, Campbell PE, Stevens BJ, et al. Menkes's kinky hair syndrome. An We believe that MD is an under-diagnosed entity inherited defect in copper absorption with in the developing countries, so being familiar widespread effects. Pediatr. 1972;50(2): with its manifestation and maintaining high index 188-201. of suspicion are necessary for early diagnosis. 11. Jankov RP, Boerkoel CF, Hellmann J, et The diagnosis can be made with great confidence al. Lethal neonatal Menkes disease with by the typical clinical history and the appearance severe vasculopathy and fractures. Acta of the infant once one or two cases have been Paediatr. 1998;87(12):1297-300. seen. 392 Menkes Disease. M Barzegar, et al 12. Proud VK, Mussell HG, Kaler SG, et al. 16. Gu YU, Kodama H, Sato E, et al. Prenatal Distinctive Menkes disease variant with diagnosis of Menkes disease by genetic occipital horns: delineation of natural analysis and copper measurement. Brain history and clinical phenotype. Am J Med Dev. 2002;24(7): 715-8. Genet. 1996;65(1):44-51. 17. Gu YH, Kodama H, Shiga K, et al. A 13. Grover WD, Johnson WC, Henkin RI. survey of Japanese patients with Menkes Clinical and biochemical aspect of disease from 1990 to 2003: incidence and Trichopoliodystrophy. Ann Neurol. early signs before typical symptomatic 1979;5(1):65-71. onset, pointing the way earlier diagnosis. J Inherit Metab Dis. 2005;28(4):473-8. 14. Whiting DA. Structural abnormalities of the hair shaft. J Am Acad Dermatol. 18. Munakata M, Sakamoto O, Kitamure T, et 1987;16(1 pt1):1-25 al. The effects of copper-histidine therapy on brain metabolism in patients with 15. Bahi-Buisson N, Kaminska A, Nabbout R, Menkes disease: a proton magnetic et al. Epilepsy in Menkes Disease: resonance spectroscopic study. Brain Dev. Analysis of Clinical Stages. Epilepsia 2005;27(4):297-300. 2006;47(2):380-6.